It is taking a lot longer to get this coop done than I ever expected. Without another pair of hands we have had to get creative to hold things in place while I use a drill or hammer. It has also been triple digits and flat-out difficult to move with any kind of speed for fear of passing out in the heat. I have put off getting the roof on as I was going to have to cut metal with no idea how difficult it might be to cut, and really was not sure how difficult it would be to do the roof.
With all else pretty much done, it was time to tackle the roof. I determined I had to do the roof from left to right facing the coop from the back. I do not have a ladder and there would be no way to attach the roofing on that far left edge to the coop because of the run. Having thought the process over for some time and comfortable I was approaching it correctly I was ready to cut and add the roofing.
I had bought the roof panels in 10′ lengths when my son was here for a visit and we could load them into the back of his pick up truck. The coop is 12′ wide and the panels cover 2′ so we bought three of them. I stopped by my local Lowe’s on a lunch break and went in looking for some metal snips. I was not looking forward to all the cutting and was determined to not just get the cheapest option but the best one so I could be done quickly. But as I made my selection I noticed that the snips state what gauge they can cut up to. I like to take photos on my cell phone of things I am interested in so I have the pricing and skew numbers when I decide to purchase, and so I pulled up the roofing photo and noticed the gauge was much thicker than what the snips could handle. Lucky for me a store representative saw my pensive pout and asked if
I needed help. I showed him what I had purchased and the gauge of the metal and asked about what would be the best way to cut it since the snips would not be effective. He started to talk about cutters and blades and I made a comment I wished I could get a blade for my Dremmel that would cut it as I would not have to purchase another tool and I was comfortable using it. He stated they had blades for the Dremmel that would have no problem cutting the metal. So over to the Dremmel section we go and he hands me a Diamond Grit Cutting Wheel. He stated that bit would cut just about anything so I happily purchased it and headed back to work.
The weekend rolled around and I went out to tackle the roof. Temps were 101 degrees but with growing chicks in the bathtub it could not be put off any longer. Before I could test out my new blade I had to address another issue. Since I used what ever boards I could find free on Craigslist the roof was going to be about 4 1/2 feet wide. The boards I used across the top came from some pallets I had obtained. There would have been nothing wrong with making the roof that width other than I would have to cut each 10 foot roof panel twice to get it to size instead of just cutting it in half. I really wanted to just cut the roof panels in half so that meant I would have to extend the boards protruding out the front. If I did not have all the wire around those boards it would have looked nicer to just buy some 10 foot 2×4’s and redo it. But I came up with a way to extend the front out and then ran another 2×4 across that new front edge to attach the roof to. It may not be pretty but it is doing a good job and I am glad I did it as I like that extension over the front of the coop.
The time finally came to cut the roof panels and I was super impressed with how easily that drill bit cut through the metal. There was some noise but not the screeching I was expecting.. and it did not throw a lot of sparks either. I marked the back side of the tin with a Sharpie and drew my line and the Dremmel with the Diamond blade was easy to control and gave me a very nice cut. You just have to go slow and not try to move too fast. If you do it will bind up and stop rotating. Just back it off a bit and it was good to go again. It only took a few minutes to cut a panel and I placed them on the roof with the cut side to the back. That Dremmel has been one of the most used tools I have ever purchased.
The roof went up smoothly and I had to chide myself for thinking it was a big deal that needed avoided all these months. However, when we got down to the last two sections and I had an issue that never occurred to me. The right side of the coop had the nest boxes already constructed, and when I laid the second to the last panel on the roof there was no place for me to stand where I could put in the screws. Ugh.. did not see THAT coming. As I was sweeping off the tree debris that was on the top of the nest boxes I pondered the situation and decided to remove the top boards as it would give me JUST enough room to fit where I could sit/stand and apply the screws across the entire width of the panel. When I was done it was a bit of a trick to slither back into the coop and I am pretty sure my body has not bent that far in those directions in a long while. Had to keep telling myself at $4/dozen for eggs at the store for the cheap ones.. it was going to be worth it.
The last panel was easy to attach to the coop along the back of the coop but I needed to get screws in the front, middle and the outside to make sure a good breeze did not lift it up and twist it around. I have no ladder so went into the house for the step stool. At the top I was still a bit short and really could not reach what I needed. I needed about another foot.. but could not be stupid and risk a fall.. hrrm. Looking around I grabbed a cinder block and put it on the top step.. then carefully climbed the ladder and up on the cinder block. I had a lot to hold on to and it was just enough height I was able to put in all the screws to properly anchor the roof down to the coop.
YEAH!! Finally the coop had a roof!
After we got the roof on it was time to patch up some holes in the walls and floor that I thought a snake could get through. I applied hardware cloth to an inside wall and laid a trim board all around the base of the coop walls. Probably a bit of over kill, but I have no desire to open a door and find a snake in the hen-house. I prefer my grey hairs come from my teen age son .. not some slithering snake.
When I was satisfied that there was no way to gain access to the coop it was time to get the Black Jack 57 down on the floor to seal it up and protect it from the chickens. When I opened the can I was a bit surprised at the way the contents had separated. It took at least 10 minutes of stirring with a very stout paint stick to get it thoroughly mixed back together. My understanding from a Google search is this is normal. Once I got it mixed I would pour some on the floor and I used a small roller to distribute the Black Jack evenly across the floor. I even put some on the roosts and will add some more to the roosts when I get around to applying it to the inside and top of the nest boxes. This stuff really made a nice protective and waterproof layer over the wood and sealed up the cracks between the floor boards. If I ever need to I can hose out the inside of the coop and I will also not have to worry about moisture and mold.
With the floor done we will be putting down something called Sweet PDZ after it sets 24 hours. The Sweet PDZ is used in horse stalls to combat odor and to keep them drier. It is also used in cat litter boxes and with other animals for the same reasons. I decided to use this in the coop and scoop out the chickie poo every few days and just toss it into the compost pile that is now located next to the run. Since the coop is pretty much nothing but roosting space I want something easy to keep clean. Many use a deep litter method and just keep adding bedding and let the chickens kinda churn it around. Then they completely clean out the coop twice a year or so. I would rather take a kitty litter scoop and pull the droppings every day or so and add to the compost pile then do a massive cleaning. I am not sure how I may like this method but have decided to try it out. I figure it will be easy enough to add the shavings if I don’t like it. If t hat becomes the case we will leave the PDZ as a base and add wood shavings over the top.
Pretty much all that we need to do now before taking the chicks out to the coop to live is tighten up a few things. There is a space between the roof and the coop on the nest box end we will cut some scrap boards to fit into the area to close that up. The nest box doors are also not closing as tight as I would like and I am concerned something could get up into the coop if the doors are pulled out just the slightest bit. So we will be redoing this and making it a bit more predator proof this coming weekend. Thankfully the temps are supposed to drop to the point of lower 90’s this weekend so I hope to have all this done and the coop ready to take the chicks that afternoon. The coop still needs to be painted but we will do that in a few weeks when the temps will be a little more moderate.
The plan is to keep the chicks locked up in the coop for several days to get them used to their coop. I need to rake out the run and make sure I have removed all the dropped screws and staples from the construction before they get the run of the place. I also want to get some seeds planted so they have some fresh sprouts to scratch through when finally allowed into the run. I still need to add a wire skirt along that back side and will pick up some wire and finish that off while they are hanging in the coop. The time in the coop should also get them used to that being home and we are hoping for no issues when it is time to go to roost.
With my mini vacation starting this weekend we will have the coop finished, the birds outside and adjusted to life in their new home. Then I am going to clean out that tub and enjoy a nice long bubble bath and decide what my next project will be.